Aug 31, 2012

Thrifting

Welcome to Thrifty Thursday Friday! Yeah, I'm a little behind this week. But I can explain! I had a dentist appointment after work yesterday, then I came home to paint the upstairs hallway and thought I'd broken something because the lights wouldn't turn on. I checked the breakers and nothing was flipped. Turns out I was just being dumb - but I needed Tom to come home and tell me that. The lights are on a 3-way switch and the other switch was sitting at the halfway mark. Super easy fix. So it was after 11pm when I finished painting and pulling down tape. But it looks good! It even makes the boring beige carpet look good. What a team player.

Had enough of my excuses? On to my finds this week.


I'm loving this framed mirror. Seven dollars. It's at least two feet square. I walked by it once but I didn't have a cart so I pretended I didn't even see it and just gave it the side eye. Do you do that? There was another lady close by who did have a cart and I didn't want her to know I was interested in it. I'm pretty sure it paid off because when I got my cart and came back she was still there. I know that was disappointment in her eyes as I loaded it up.



I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do with it, whether to paint it or just leave it. I don't even know where I'm going to put it. With my other mirrors hanging out in the spare room? Shhhhhh.

There was a whole shelf of these mdf picture frames. Probably 20 or 30 frames. I took 9 of them. I'm going to arrange them 3 x 3 on a wall in the basement tv room, once it's painted. I think they'll have black and white vacation photos in them. The frames will probably end up white as I'm going for a beachy look for the whole room.




How sweet is this planter, bowl, pedestal, whatchamacallit? I think it was something like two dollars. 





It's a substantial size and really has presence. I'm going to fill it will either a drapey plant or fruit. Not drapey fruit though, just regular fruit.


Three of Tom's relatives liked the wreath I made for his mom for Mother's Day so much that they asked me to make wreaths for them as well. My first commission! I've been collecting materials over the last month or so and I think I have everything I need. I'm going to use this picture frame and wreath together for one, but I'm not telling you anything else - it's a secret.



I also snagged some paperbacks and another frame for our living room gallery wall. The gallery that might have pictures in it some day. It's on the list, really!

Have you been thrifting lately? Any good finds? I kind of want to go to the Restore tomorrow but I don't know if I'm pushing my luck with Tom. With the combination of things we bought while in Pennsylvania and my recent thrift store outings, the place is starting to look like a warehouse.


Aug 28, 2012

Holy Guacamole!

I know, not the most original title, right? But this recipe is going to change your life! Okay, not really, but it is pretty darn good.



Let me tell you a little story -

There once was a girl who hated guacamole. She avoided it at all costs. It was wet and slimy and mushy. It had no right to call itself food. She wouldn't even eat avocado (which really limited her sushi choices).

Then she started following the Paleo way of eating, and guacamole was something that everyone in the Paleo-know was touting as the ideal snack.  It was full of healthy fat, fibre, and vitamin K, C, and E. She started to think about trying it again, but just thinking about it. No promises were made.

Nearly a year went by and the girl found herself at a mexican restaurant while on vacation. And there she saw guacamole on her plate. She decided to take the plunge. And guess what? She liked it!

Fast forward a week and she had some avocados in her possession, a recipe in hand, and a party to go to where she was in charge of bringing veggie snacks.

She made the guacamole. It was so good she wants to make more. Every day.

The end.


Ummm, that girl was me. (I'm not sure if you figured that out.)

Here is my first attempt at making guacamole. Along the way I learned that while rock-hard abs are good, rock-hard avocados are not. And I got to witness first-hand how avocado pits react with a metal knife (spoiler - it's like something out of a horror movie.)

You'll need:

1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper (or other pepper of your choice), seeds removed, finely chopped
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 ripe avocados
3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder (or cayenne if you like it hot)
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste

I think what appeals to me are all of the "extras" that are added. I also considered mushrooms and celery.  You could even add chopped nuts for a bit of crunch.

You'll want to prep all of your other ingredients before you cut up the avocado. Avocado reacts with air very quickly and will start to turn brown so you want to keep it as fresh as possible.



I love taking pictures of food. Playing with the lighting and making the colours pop. 



Once everything else is ready, you can cut up the avocado one of two ways. You can cut it in half, take out the pit, and then scoop the flesh out and into a plastic or glass bowl. Ours weren't ripe yet so that didn't work for us. We had to peel the skin, remove the pit, and then chop up the avocado.


If your avocado isn't ripe enough, you can heat it in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, until it softens up. We ended up heating ours quite a bit and it was still firmer and drier than what you'd see in a restaurant. But remember that story waaaaay up at the top? I was happy it wasn't all mushy.

Add the lime juice into the bowl and mash the avocado with a wooden or plastic spoon. Make it as smooth or as chunky as you'd like.


Add in the cilantro, cumin, chili powder, garlic, salt, & pepper. Mix well. Then add in the onions and peppers. Mix again. Taste it and decide if you want to add more seasoning. Lastly, add the tomatoes and stir gently.

Chill for at least 15 minutes. You can chill your guacamole too if you want.

We had already made cinnamon tortilla chips for some fruit salsa so we just made some extra with parmesan cheese instead of cinnamon.(And honestly, I liked the taste of the cinnamon with the guacamole better.)

Take a 10" round tortilla and brush it with melted butter or spray it with butter-flavoured spray.


I combined sugar and cinnamon and put them in an empty spice shaker bottle. Shake the sugar-cinnamon mixture all over the tortilla, but don't get too heavy-handed.


Take a pizza cutter or a knife and cut the tortilla into bite-sized pieces. Lay them out flat on a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven for 8-10 minutes.


Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.

If making savoury chips instead of sweet, just substitute parmesan, garlic, herbs, or any other spice you favour.


Pull out that fabulous guacamole you just made and enjoy!







You want to know about the pit and the knife though, don't you?  Any place the knife cut the pit would turn bright red within minutes. It looked like it had little cuts all over it that were ready to drip blood. Cree-pee.

Don't think about that any more. Think about puppies and rainbows. And rock-hard abs.



~~~~~

I'm linking up here this week!




Aug 23, 2012

Re-use and Re-purpose




Saw this on Mlkshk today.  


Pink plastic flamingos! Chandeliers!

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Aug 22, 2012

Pennsylvania Welcomes You (and Me!)

Did you think I'd fallen off the edge of the world? It sure felt like it. Off the edge of the blogging world anyway. We took a few days and drove to Erie, PA for some beach time and some shopping.

Prepare to be inundated with vacation pictures.


We haven't been to Pennsylvania in about 8 years. We had a terrific time again, though as usual, we scheduled a little too much to do with not enough time to do it in. We didn't make it to the zoo, spent one short afternoon at the beach, and we only went swimming at our hotel twice. But it was still nice to get away from work and to see new sights. We stayed at the same hotel as last time - the Hampton Inn - but we vowed to eat at places we'd never been to before. Even though we ended up at a couple of chains - Chipotle (oh my gosh, so good!) and Chick-fil-A (excellent chicken nuggets) - they were new to us.

Tom's favourite thing about the entire vacation? The bathtub. Yes, he would have stayed in the hotel room the entire time if I'd let him. That thing was huge though. The first night we were there the pool was freezing so we came back to the room and hung out in our "hot tub". In our bathtub at home you can barely stretch your legs out so we felt like we were living in luxury.


We decided to get the serious shopping out of the way on the first full day. We headed off to Grove City outlet mall early in the morning - with a small detour into Ohio to hit HomeGoods. I think we were there for over 2 hours. Tom was excited to find some pots and pans he loved, and he wouldn't stop squeezing a hedgehog dog toy. I thought we were going to get kicked out of the store.


My big find? This painting of a dog. That looks exactly like Sasha. Do you see it? She even has the little Hitler moustache. I almost put it back but Tom said I was crazy if I didn't buy it.



The one thing he wouldn't let me buy was this armchair for the living room. 


I thought it was perfect. Navy & tan with a deep comfortable seat. But he said it was too big for the car. I'm still sad. I loved that chair. Anyone coming to Ontario and want to drop it off on the way? Hello? Hello?

We drove through Volant Mills on the way to Grove City. I had planned the route so that we would. The main street of Volant Mills is lined with antique and gift shops. Heaven, right? What's funny is that as soon as we drove into town we both said, "We've been here before." We had visited the last time we were in Pennsylvania and completely forgotten. It was still fun to look around.

In the centre of town is the old grist mill that they are in the process of getting back in working order.


We chatted with the owner a bit and he told us that once the mill is up and running they are hoping to be able to grind local rye and sell small bags of it. They'd also like to be able to generate enough electricity to be self-sufficient.

I took some pictures of the old bagging apparatus - but you know I was mostly interested in the huge roll of twine!


No pictures of Grove City - you've seen one outlet mall, you've seen them all - but we did see this along the way (cover your children's eyes):



Okay, moving right along.

Presque Isle State Park is a peninsula that juts into Lake Erie from the town of Erie. There are 11 beaches (I think) and miles of walking/biking trails. We went late in the afternoon and the beach we chose was almost completely deserted.


What a gorgeous day. I thought the water was too cold but Tom jumped right in. For a guy who can't swim he sure loves the water.

We threw a pretzel to a seagull and instantly we were surrounded. Suddenly we were feeding a dozen. This guy kept calling his friends over. Mouthy little twerp.


It was fun to watch them and discover the different personalities. It didn't take us long to be able to tell them apart even though they were moving around all the time.


 I think this guy was my favourite. I love his brown markings. (I say "his" but it could have been a girl.)


This is the money shot though. How awesome is that? It's like I know what I'm doing or something.


After we went to the beach we drove around playing, "Imagine if we lived there?" Some of these places back right onto the water and have windows all along the lake side.




(This one is in the country, which makes it even better.)

We wandered around downtown and stumbled upon the Celebrate Erie festival. It's a 4 day street party for all ages with music, games, food, and craft booths. Phil Vassar was playing that night. Phil Vassar! But we didn't stay to hear him play.


We did check out the chalk drawing competition. I'm not sure if you can see it here, but the wine cellar and the bird drawings are in 3-D if you stand in the right spot. They were my choices to win.


I sneakily took a picture of this tiny lady and her huge bag of popcorn. Do you think she ate the whole thing?


The smells coming from all of the food vendors were making us hungry so we headed over to Pufferbelly - one of the restaurants on our list of places to try. 


It is an old converted firehall and they kept as many of the original items and building materials as they could when they were doing the renovation. "Pufferbelly" is the nickname given to the old steam pumpers from the 1800's. The woman working the door had been there for over 20 years and her father and uncle had been firemen at that station before it was converted.

Life Net:

Hook and Ladder:

Hose Reel:

The food was fantastic and our waitress was hilarious. She didn't even mind that I kept running off to take pictures. If you're ever in Erie you have to go there.




And that's how we ended our Pennsylvania vacation. Well, there was one more trip to the pet store, but I already told you about that.

We've decided that we need to go back more often - we're going to aim for once a year. Last time we went for a week and had time to travel all over the state. I'd like to do that again.

Have you vacationed in Pennsylvania? Do you live there? What's your favourite thing to do?


Aug 20, 2012

Puppy Love

Just back from vacation - tons of pictures to go through, and tons of laundry to do. Hopefully I can get something together by tomorrow.

But this was - hands down - my favourite part of vacation. We stopped by the local pet store (twice!) and I got to play with this sweet little 4 month old corgi. I wish I could have taken him home with me. I pray someone comes to get him soon (along with all the other darling puppies that were there.)





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